In order to help parents settle custody matters amicably without going to trial, the courts may order mediation in child custody cases. This means that both parties sit down with a mediator in an attempt to come to an agreement on child custody. The job of the mediator is to ensure that both sides are heard, and to help both parents reach an agreement on issues such as visitation, where the child will live and attend school, and holiday schedules.
Mediation is not legally binding, unless both sides agree. Parents can go forward with a court case on any issues that they cannot resolve. However, keep child custody case costs in mind, as those can add up quickly. In some cases, the judge may also order arbitration.
In any case, it’s important to remember that a mediator does not have final authority. Agreements must be approved by the judge, and the mediator cannot force anyone to agree to something. They are there to help facilitate an amicable agreement without going to trial.
How Much Does Mediation in Child Custody Cases Cost?
Mediation can certainly be less expensive than taking a child custody case to trial. Even if certain things must be settled in court, the more you can settle in mediation the better. The ballpark rate of a private mediator can vary between $100 and $1,000 per hour. Government-regulated service providers tend to charge as low as $5 per hour for parties with an annual income of $14,999 or less and up to $235 per hour for those with an annual income of $125,000 and above. There may also be setup costs and other fees involved. However, remember that these are nationwide figures.
In Colorado, you may use a mediator from the Office of Dispute resolution. There is a fee for this, but you may be able to get that fee waived or reduced depending on your circumstances. To do so, you will have to fill out an application.
You can also hire a private mediator. A quick glance at mediation services in the Denver area show that hourly fees can start around $100 an hour with a two hour minimum. Many providers tend to charge more, up to $500 per hour with the average cost being close to $250-$360 per hour. These rates are slightly higher than the national average. Still, mediation can be significantly less expensive than going to court.
Where to Find Mediation Services
If you need mediation for a child custody case in Colorado, you have several options available. There are so-called “mediation services” providers. Just be aware that mediators are not very closely regulated by the state of Colorado. However, if you choose a mediator from the Office of Dispute Resolution, you will be assigned a mediator who has met certain qualifications. You may also select a private mediator if your ex agrees to this.
Many people going through this process want to feel confident that they are represented by someone who understands the state of Colorado's child support and custody laws. They feel most comfortable selecting a mediator from the pool of child custody lawyers in Colorado. The specialists at Tolison & Williams are happy to help with mediation. We are able to:
- Provide you with legal advice throughout the mediation process
- Ensure that your legal rights are protected
- Act as the mediator for you and the other parent
- Review any documents or agreements for your protection
- Move forward with a court case if mediation is not successful
Contact the Tolison & Williams office to learn more about the mediation process.